October and witches continue with Tony Robinson’s When the British were Terrified of Witches. This is a documentary about the witch trials that took place in Britain and Scotland.
In Gods and Monsters, Tony Robinson explores “When the British were Terrified of Witches.” Tony explores the history of witchcraft and witch trials in Britain. He explores how the beliefs were brought into the British Isles and how they transformed British Society. How did they tell that people were witches? Who made people witches? Why was there a belief in witches?
Tony dives deeper into the beliefs in witches and witchcraft. Today, we have stereotypical beliefs of witches: they had warts, they had toads, and they had caldrons. Witches were something that you joked about. They were found in fairy tales. Not so in early Europe. Back when the Stewarts and Tudors ruled, there were no such stereotypes. Everyone feared witches. Witches were a fact of life. More than 40,000 supposed witches were killed. Alongside a team of historians, Tony learns more about Witches and the beliefs that the people had.
Witch trials were well documented in the English records. Tony kicks off with the story of Agnes Sampson. Agnes was a midwife; however, she was potentially the inspiration for the witches in Macbeth. She was accused of trying to kill King James. King James was coming home from Denmark to Scotland when his ships encountered a serious storm. This storm threatened to sink his ship. King James accused her of trying to murder him.
Sampson was swept up in one of Scotland’s biggest witch hunts. Agnes gathered with over 200 witches. In these gatherings, they were accused of plotting to kill King James and his wife Queen Anne. Those who accused her thought she had made a pact with the devil. The devil gave these women supernatural powers. They had the power to destroy. They were feared by the locals. Witches were not born with their terrible powers. They were tempted by the devil.
How did this transformation take place? The devil appeared to these women while they were going about their business. He traveled through the land in the form of smoke and then transformed himself into a person. He was described as an attractive man. The women said that he would sweet-talk them. The devil told the women he could give them power and money. The women would give themselves to the Devil. Then they would become witches.
Witches were impossible to spot. They looked like ordinary women. Domestic implements were at the heart of the witches' arsenal. They also used shocking ingredients. Tony discovers the origin of the flying broomstick. Agnes was not alone in practicing black magic. She worked together with other witches. Tony learns about the Witches’ Sabbaths. Inversion, everything good would be made foul. A stew could be made into something that could kill. Religious festivals would be turned on their head. They would burn crosses and Bibles during the Sabbaths. Social and religious norms were turned on their head.
Witches were a threat and women were targeted because they were weak. It was a terrifying prospect to everyone. Tony explores why magic was fact rather than fiction. He moves to explore why the belief moved from fantasy to reality. Tony finds a dead chicken, the chicken was perfectly healthy in the morning. He reacts like any other ordinary man would have reacted: someone in the village as a witch. Continue to watch this documentary to find out more about witches.
This is a good episode for researcher purposes for a lecture or independent study students. Tony is a delight when narrating this story. His curiosity is infectious.
Now we will look at a documentary on the Salem Witch Trials to continue with our Witch theme. This is an older documentary about the Salem Witch Trials. However, the information is excellent and gives a different perspective on what triggered the Salem Witch Trials. The answer may surprise you.
This is an older Secrets of the Dead episode about the Salem Witch Trials. Were the girls truly bewitched? One scientist dives into the Salem Witch Trials. The answer she found may surprise the viewer. Using her sleuthing skills and historical records, she discovered what triggered the Salem Witch trials as well as similar trials around Europe. In doing so, she may have solved the mystery of a murder.
For three centuries, witch persecution spiraled out of control. 40,000 men, women, and children were killed in Europe. The Vatican sent out warnings against witchcraft. Witchfinders went up and down England finding suspected witches. One witch hunter brought over 100 people to trial in two years. Witchcraft was punishable by death.
Linda Kaperal worked through the evidence. In carefully working through the evidence, she discovered one consistent clue. The evidence fell into place as she explored the records. She connected the evidence to a modern drug. This modern drug gave people horrifying visions and fevered dreams. How could this modern drug trigger the witch hunts that plagued Europe for three centuries?
In 1589 the most brutal witch persecutions happened. The church leaders, doctors, and magistrates were brought to a manor house where there were five children and seven servants who were struck down by a mystery illness. The illness bore all the hallmarks of witchcraft. There were some skeptics, however, they were convinced that witchcraft was in play.
The girls were plagued by visions. They saw animals that were not there. They had violent fits. The girls blamed a woman: Alice Samuel. She was a local misfit. Samuel was tortured into confessing she was a witch. She was hanged after her confession. They hanged her husband and daughter too. It seemed that it was an open and shut case.
Salem, Massachusetts provides a strong set of evidence that would throw this English trial into doubt. The victims suffered from the same symptoms as the girls in England. They had violent fits. They had horrifying visions. The 19 people who were executed could have saved their lives by confessing to being a witch, but they did not.
Many settlers were struck down by an illness. For a year three girls became the most powerful people in Salem. They held the town spellbound with their fits. They pointed out who bewitched them. 150 people were arrested. The prisoners had a choice: confess or die. If you confessed you were going against God. If you refused to confess, you died.
Kaperal looked at the symptoms presented by the girls in Salem. She initially thought that the girls faked their symptoms and wanted to do it for attention. Something did not feel right about this explanation. There was some faking, however, the descriptions on some of the other symptoms could not be faked. The convulsions described were so horrible the girls could not fake those. Other people in the community experienced the same symptoms too. The evidence was there, all it needed was a new set of eyes to look at it. The explanation came to Kaperal suddenly and it surprised her.
To continue to learn about what happened in Salem and to learn about the modern drug that may have triggered the witch trials, continue to watch the documentary.
Show this documentary to a history and science classroom. You can see how science is applied to history to solve a mystery. A history class covers a historical event.
War on Witches is about one king’s hunt witches. This continues our witch theme for October. It is 1590: England is ruled by Queen Elizabeth and Scotland is ruled by King James I. King James I had a vendetta. He had a vendetta against witches. In May 1590, King James I was returning to Scotland from Denmark. Storms were stirred up in the North Sea. King James was in danger of sinking. Winds and waves slammed the ship. The passengers thought the storm was caused unnaturally.
Was the storm caused by witches? The King had powerful enemies. He had been abandoned by his mother and his father was dead. He was brought up by four men and these men were driven into exile or murdered. There were several assassinations and kidnapping attempts over his reign in Scotland. It was enough to make any man paranoid. The storm that struck in the North Sea just fed his paranoia.
This storm convinced King James that it was another attempt on his life and it was an attempt by witches to kill him. During his time in the Danish court, he observed that the culture that went after witches. Denmark was one of the intellectual centers for Witch Hunting. He was able to exchange information and learning with the leading minds of the Danish Court. King James would bring these beliefs back to Scotland.
Witch-hunting flared up when there were periods of fighting between Catholics and Protestants. Witches made deals with the devil in exchange for supernatural powers. The people wanted to get rid of evil. They targeted each other, and thousands of people were killed as a result of the witch trials. 130 women were burned to death in one village in Germany. In 1590, witch-hunting did not reach the English or Scottish shores.
When King James came home from his honeymoon, he brought this belief to the Scottish shores. The storm convinced him that witches were after him. Among the common people, there was a belief in natural magic and folk magic. This was good magic that healed people and animals. The people who practiced this were called wise or cunning folk. Unfortunately, this belief was challenged when King James came back.
Historian Joyce Froome shows off a book of spells that was written by a cunning man. This book had recipes and herbal remedies to help the people. Folk magic was important because doctors were expensive. The cunning people were essential members of the community. Agnes Sampson was one of these cunning people. She served both the rich and the poor. She had a reputation for healing. Unfortunately, she would be swept up in the witch trials.
On the opposite of the good magic the cunning people practiced, some people practiced dark magic. The spellbook Froome shows off also included spells to harm people, such as making a thief confess to theft. Historian Ronald Hutton shows off a display of objects that could be used for dark magic. Hutton discusses how both good and bad magic were lumped together in the eyes of the Church.
To continue to learn more about James I and his desire to hunt witches watch the rest of this documentary.
Ronald Hutton, one of my favorite historians, takes part in this documentary. I enjoyed his discussion on witch-hunting increased when the fighting between Protestants and Catholics increased. There was also fascinating archaeology shown in this documentary that demonstrated the common beliefs of the people. I would show this documentary in the classroom or for independent study students. You are limited by your imagination when it comes to using YouTube in the classroom!
Today we are continuing with our Witch Theme for October. This time, I will present a documentary about the last woman who was tried as a witch in Britain. When did this happen? Well, it happened during World War II!
Tony Robinson investigates the case of Helen Duncan, the last person in Britain to be jailed as a witch. It was before D-Day and she was predicting the invasion. She was tried as a witch during World War II. Duncan was uncannily accurate in her predictions during World War II. She was a threat to British National Security. MI-5 got involved with her case. Was she talking with the spirits of the dead soldiers? Where they telling her secrets she should not have known? Becky McCall and Tony Robinson find out more about Helen Duncan.
Britain was on a war footing and everyone was on edge. D-Day was coming and the military did not want the Nazis to know what they were planning. This woman was such a threat to national security that the military decided to put her on trial and lock her up. She was the last person in Britain to be put on trial for witchcraft. She was arrested as a spy. Helen Duncan was a psychic medium. She spoke with the dead.
Robinson heads to Portsmouth to investigate Helen and what happened. He goes to a place where Helen held her seances. People flocked to her séances because they wanted to speak to their relatives. They sought comfort from Helen. One particular night, she announced that the HMS Barham had sunk. It shocked the people in the room. The Barham’s sinking was a state secret. MI-5 sent officers to Portsmouth to investigate Helen’s claims. The Barham’s sinking was announced three months after it happened.
Robinson and McCall do a catch-up on what they discovered. They go to the primary sources that surrounded the Barham’s sinking and the sailors who died on that ship. Who did Helen speak for when she made this announcement? She spoke with a sailor named Sid, and the people in the room recognized him immediately. They find the sailor’s name on a memorial in Portsmouth. They discovered that he lived on the street where Duncan held her séance. McCall and Robinson part to do further investigating. Then Robinson goes to a modern-day spiritualist church and observes a service. McCall investigates how mediums work.
McCall discovers that the family who had sailors on board the Barham received a letter from the government telling them about the sinking. They were also instructed to keep the sinking a secret from the public. So perhaps Duncan guessed that one of the witnesses had a sailor in the family that had died and guessed that it was the Barham.
To learn more about the Helen Duncan case continue to watch the documentary.
Tony Robinson is an excellent presenter. He approaches this strange story with skepticism. He does an excellent job balancing his skepticism with the evidence presented. He takes his time as he reflects on the evidence before him. Becky McCall is also excellent at bringing in a scientific eye to this investigation.
This is an interesting look at something that happened in World War II. It was fascinating to find out that the last person in Britain to be tried as a witch happened during World War II. I do not think anyone could have guessed that. This would be a good documentary to share for research purposes for an independent study student. If you need something interesting to show to the students during October.
To continue with the Halloween/Witches theme for October, I will be sharing Witch Hunt: A Century of Murder. This program is presented by Suzannah Lipscomb narrates program. There are scenes of violence and torture in this documentary. This documentary should be shown to older students.
King Charles I had ended witch-hunting in Britain when he became king. However, the witch trials started up again as his power waned. Today’s episode features the story of Matthew Hopkins: Witch Finder General.
Manningtree, England was the site of a fresh episode of witch-hunting. A sick woman was in bed. Her husband went before the magistrate to bring the witch to justice. Elizabeth Clarke was accused of being a witch. She was poor, cantankerous, a widow, and had one leg. The husband wanted Elizabeth Clarke arrested and executed. A landowner brought forward evidence against Elizabeth.
The evidence was that Elizabeth had denied being a witch, but knew plenty of other witches. A warrant was issued to investigate the charges. The warrant forbade torture. Matthew Hopkins was the man who would carry out the warrant.
King Charles I had put so many conditions on what evidence could be provided that witch-hunting had stopped. Unfortunately, his power was slipping away. The English Civil War was about to start. This allowed witch-hunting to begin again.
A group of women went to Elizabeth Clarke’s cottage. She was stripped of her clothing to search for a devil’s mark. They were looking for moles, birthmarks, any unusual marks on the body. However, this was not enough evidence. They needed a confession. The group of women kept her awake for three days. Sleep deprivation was not considered torture at the time. Hopkins then showed up and questioned Elizabeth. She finally confessed to being a witch and named other witches. She was fed up with the way they were treating her.
Matthew Hopkins made a new career for himself. He became known as a Witch Finder. He went after the people Elizabeth named. When the trial happened, Hopkins made sure that there would be convictions. In the past, many convictions were thrown out for lack of evidence. That would change when Hopkins took to the stand. He gave his evidence and told the spectators that Elizabeth had confessed to being a witch.
He also had another card up his sleeve: Rebecca West. Hopkins offered West freedom if she would implicate the others. She accepted the deal and gave evidence at trial. If she did not testify, she could have been tried and hanged with the rest of the women. She gave evidence that led to the conviction of 15 supposed witches. The witches were hanged.
Hopkins would then go around towns and was the Witch Finder General. He would find supposed witches. He became one of the most feared men in England. He sent 15 women to the gallows in a single day, wherein the previous year there were only two women hanged in East Anglia. After the 15 women were hanged, Hopkins collected his fee and moved onto the next town. He had no legal right to do so. There was no one to stop him amid the English Civil War.
Hopkins's next victim was a clergyman. He had been a vicar for 40 years and was so disliked his parishioners accused him of being a witch. It was the first time that a serving clergyman had been accused of being a witch…
Continue to watch Witch Hunt: A Century of Murder to learn more about witch-hunting. To see what happened to the clergyman continue to watch. Could Hopkins be stopped? If so, who could stop him?
You can access the YouTube Video here.
To continue with the Halloween/Witches theme for October, I will be sharing Witch Hunt: A Century of Murder. This program is presented by Suzannah Lipscomb narrates program. There are scenes of violence and torture in this documentary. This documentary should be shown to older students.
Scotland is where the witch-hunting began. Queen Anne was coming to Scotland. She had just married King James and was sailing from Denmark to make her home in Scotland. However, the journey proved treacherous. One ship sunk and the ship Queen Anne was sailing on nearly capsized. She returned to Denmark. King James decided to go to Denmark to bring her back. Not only did he bring a bride back but he brought back something else.
At the time the Danes were influenced to hunt out witches. The church seemed to back this hunting wish idea. Witches were the devil’s handmaidens and bent on doing destruction. While in Denmark, King James came face to face with that reality. While he was in the Danish Court, two witches were arrested and put on trial. They confessed to causing the sea storm to kill the Scottish King and the new Scottish Queen. This shocked him however he carried on, bringing his new wife back to Scotland. He would have continued to carry on if it was not for David Seaton.
David Seaton was the deputy bailiff in a Scottish town. He caught his servant girl slipping out of his house late at night. Gilles Duncan was the young servant girl. She had suddenly acquired healing powers and had been sneaking out at night. He thought she had made a pact with the devil and was determined to prove it. She promised she was not a witch. However, Seaton tormented her into confessing. Her fingers were crushed. She refused to confess to being a witch even as her fingers were crushed. Seaton pressed further, tying ropes around her head to wrench it. She still did not confess to something she did not do.
She was not broken and Seaton hardened his torture. It was only when he discovered a mark on her neck did Gilles confessed. What about this mark that made her finally confess to witchcraft? Was it shame? No matter what, her confession was the first in Scottish history. She was brought to prison and kept there. She gave up eight names of wishes. One hundred supposed witches were arrested and tortured. Additionally, she confessed that her coven was in league with the Danish witches who wanted to kill King James. This was the case that made King James realize that there were witches in his kingdom and thus kicking off witch-hunting in Scotland. He became involved in the case.
Agnes Sampson was one of the “witches” arrested. She was a midwife. She was tortured. She confessed to witchcraft. She was brought to King James to be interrogated. She repeated the confession to King James. King James seemed skeptical at first. King James was a widely read king and was inspired by rationality and rational examination. He denounced her as a liar. However, she whispered something to King James that made him change his mind. It was enough to convince him to believe that she was a witch. Why did Agnes say this statement to the king? Did she want to scare him? Or was did she want to end her suffering?
King James ordered that her torture be ended as a result of this confession. Agnes Sampson was executed as a witch. Several other witches were executed as well. These were people scared out of their wits, who wanted to end their torture. They were garroted and burned to death. These executions were only the beginning…
Continue to watch Witch Hunt: A Century of Murder to learn more about witch-hunting. Learn how witch-hunting had the King’s stamp of approval. Learn how witch-hunting ended up in England as well.
You can access the YouTube Video here.
It is now October and Halloween happens at the end of the month. So why not hit up YouTube for historical documentaries for your classroom? Since it is Halloween, witches seem to go with the holiday. I am going to share with the learning world documentaries on the various Witch trials that happened in history. The first trial I am going to introduce you to is the Pendle Witch Trial. This is a trial where a child testified against her family and condemned them to death.
It is 1612 and a woman is accused of killing two men by witchcraft. Her nine-year-old daughter is brought into the courtroom and what the child says condemns her mother to death. Her name was Jennet Device.
The Pendle Witch Trial occurred during the reign of King James I. He had a reputation for hunting witches. He was king in a new country and brought with him new customs and suspensions. He believed that witches tried to kill him. He took part in witch trials. He wrote a book called Demonology, one of the earliest heads of states to do it. The Pendle area was this tucked-away place.
Jennet’s family survived by begging and doing odd jobs. Her grandmother was known as a “cunning woman,” a woman who could heal people. They had a great deal of power in the community. Cunning women do good things, while witches make you sick and kill you. Cunning women had to walk a fine line in the community, because if you angered the wrong person you could be accused of being a witch. Or a cunning woman could muscle in on your territory and could get rid of a rival.
England was now a fully Protestant nation. They were suspicious of those who practiced the old ways. Catholicism looked similar to witchcraft. Tensions were high in the Royal Court and the country. Then you have a king who wrote a book on how to hunt witches. It was only a matter of time before the explosion went off.
Alice Device, Jennet’s sister ran into a peddler for some pins. However, the peddler refused to give her the pins. So, Alice cursed him. The old man collapsed, terrifying the girl. She immediately confessed to putting a curse on him. It terrified her to no end and she had no doubt she killed him. This guilt would lead her to confess and that would lead to the downfall of the family. The peddler’s son reported what happened to the local magistrate. Alice was brought in for questioning and she confessed.
This leads to Alice accusing her neighbor Chattox of making clay figures. This touched off a witch hunt in the Pendle area. Alice’s grandmother and her neighbors were arrested, accused of witchcraft. They were put into the tower at Lancaster Castle. The rest of the family got together, was this a meeting of witches, or was it a family meeting, or was it a party. The local sheriff got wind of the meeting and burst into the meeting. The Device family was arrested; however, they pointed the finger at additional people. These additional people were arrested, some of them came from landowning, respectable families.
Jennet felt isolated from her family. She was the youngest of the family and she was illegitimate. Perhaps this was the reason why she wanted to testify against her family. Perhaps she enjoyed the attention she got from being center stage. Whatever reason, it is clear that her testimony would change legal history.
To continue to learn more about the Pendle witches watch the rest of this documentary.
The narrator of this documentary is fantastic! He tells the story of the Pendle Witches very well. I could listen to him read me a story at bedtime. This would be an excellent documentary to show in class.
You can access the YouTube video here.
Quest for the Lost City - YouTube
A set of panels turned up in a private collection. They were created by the Mayans. These panels are a clue to a mystery. The city from where these panels came is lost in the Central American jungles. The quality of the panels hints that the city was huge. They call the site of this missing city Site Q. It is the most lost Mayan city. This is a documentary about the search for this lost city. *Recommended as a bonus documentary for middle school and high school classrooms.*
Breaking the Maya Code - YouTube
In 1965, Russian linguist Yuri Knorosov cracked the Maya Code. It is about Copan, a Mayan site. It had been abandoned before the Spanish explorers came to Central America. When they stumbled onto the remains of Copan, they stumbled upon a mystery. What did the pictures on the ruins mean? What stories were hidden in these pictures? Cracking the Maya Code is an older documentary. *Recommended for a high school and middle school history classroom.*
Lost Kingdoms of South America
People of the Clouds - YouTube
Dr. Jago Cooper explores the ancient kingdoms of South America. For the most part, the Inca dominate the history textbooks. Cooper explores other kingdoms that had an impact on South America. The first kingdom is the “People of the Clouds.” They are a mysterious civilization. He starts off his exploration in Lima to learn more about the People of the Clouds. He goes into the Andes to explore the remnants of the civilization. *Highly recommended for a history class and independent study students.*
The Stone at the Center - YouTube
Dr. Jago Cooper is exploring a second lost civilization of South America in the Stone at the Center. They are from Bolivia and live in the Andes. They left behind a spectacular temple. This temple was the heart of this civilization. The temple stands at the height of 13,000 feet. This civilization lasted over 500 years even though the Andes provided a challenging environment. They should not have thrived, but they did. *Highly recommended for a history class.*
Lands of Gold - YouTube
In the Land of Gold, Jago Cooper explores another lost kingdom of South America. Cooper explores both the Muisca and Tairona. Their gold carvings drew the Spanish conquistadors into their lands. Was the land of El Dorado hidden in Columbia? Both cultures were skilled in gold making. Cooper explores this myth and teaches about the Muisca and Tairona cultures. Columbia was on the way to the Inca Homeland. *Highly recommended for a history class.*
Kingdom of the Desert - YouTube
The Lost Kingdoms of South America concludes with the Chimor of Peru. They came from the sea. The Chimor built one of the largest pre-Columbia cities in North America. Once they accomplished that, they seemed to have disappeared into the desert from which they emerged. Cooper examines one last culture to help put them in their place among the Incas. *Highly recommended for a history classroom and independent study students.*
Lost Kingdoms of Central America
Kingdom of the Jaguar - YouTube
Dr. Jago Cooper explores the Lost Kingdoms of Central America. The first episode in this series is called Kingdom of the Jaguar. Cooper starts off his journey exploring a cave that the people believed was a tunnel to the underworld. This civilization rose out of the marshes of Southern Mexico. They built the first pyramids. They are known as the Olmec. They came before the Mayan People. *Highly recommended for a history class.*
The People Who Greeted Columbus - YouTube
In Lost Kingdoms of Central America episode 2 “The People who Greeted Columbus,” Jago Cooper explores the Taino civilization. He explores their origins, their myths, and the people. This civilization was the one that greeted Columbus. It was where primitive life met progress. This episode is a reexamination of the cultures Columbus encountered. Please forgive the sound quality and issues throughout this video. *Recommended for use in the classroom.*
Between Oceans and Empires - YouTube
The Lost Kingdoms of Central America continues in Between Empires and Oceans. Dr. Jago Cooper starts off his journey in Costa Rica. Archeologists ignored the country for decades, unaware of a hidden civilization so close. They built cities and carved a living out of the landscape. When Columbus found this civilization the people were covered head to toe in gold. So why was this civilization ignored? *Highly recommended for a history class.*
The Land Where Time Began - YouTube
The Lost Kingdoms of Central America concludes with the “Place Where Time Began.” Dr. Jago Cooper explores the Teotihuacan civilization. For hundreds of years, it was the biggest state in the world. They built huge pyramids. However, nobody knows the identity of this civilization. Dr. Cooper tries to find out more about this final mysterious civilization. *Highly recommended for a history class. Also recommended for independent study students.*
The Lost Kingdoms of Central America concludes with the “Place Where Time Began.” Dr. Jago Cooper explores the Teotihuacan civilization. For hundreds of years, it was the biggest state in the world. They built huge pyramids. They were an empire in the fullest sense of the world. They pre-dated the Aztec civilization. However, nobody knows the identity of this civilization. Archeologists are spending time trying to piece together this civilization. Dr. Cooper tries to find out more about this final mysterious civilization.
2,000 years ago Teotihuacan dominated the Ancient American world. Teotihuacan’s influence would spread to other empires. Teotihuacan’s rulers built grand monuments. What drew people to Teotihuacan? How did the Teotihuacan rulers consolidate their power? What drove the Teotihuacan people to dominate the world? Why did it grow so influential? Dr. Cooper seeks to understand this civilization. Teotihuacan was situated in the high plains of Mexico. It grew into a large city-state. Little is known about Teotihuacan.
Teotihuacan was one of the many settlements in the Mexico basin. It grew rapidly. The Teotihuacan civilization eventually smothered the several settlements around it. Other settlements ended due to a volcanic eruption. Cities around the volcano ended up being covered in 10 meters of lava. The volcanic eruptions scared the people. As a result, the people left their cities to look for safety. Eventually Teotihuacan grew. The Teotihuacan rulers could provide a measure of safety the other settlements could not.
How did this civilization survive in this environment? They lived on several volcanos. The rains and flooding were unpredictable. The people looked to their rulers. The rulers were in charge of the rain. They kept the rain coming or not coming. The religious system mattered to the people. The community was above the individual. If the people followed their leaders, then all would be well. There was one ritual that kept the people going: human sacrifice. Archeologists discovered remains in one of the temples. The bones showed how they were sacrificed. There was a blow to the head and then the heads were removed from the body. Then the heads were placed in the pyramid of the Moon. Teotihuacan was huge and control the population proved to be a challenge to the rulers. So, human sacrifice was also used as a political tool to control the population.
Additionally, the rulers controlled their empire through trade. This brought in new ideas and materials into the empire. The Teotihuacan people dealt in the obsidian trade. It is a volcanic rock used to create tools for cutting. Obsidian was a rare rock, and it was highly valued by the Teotihuacan people. Dr. Cooper goes in search of the source for obsidian. Obsidian was found in 50-ton blocks and they would be cut down into smaller sections to be carried out. Then the people would make tools and weapons out of obsidian. The spearheads that were created were incredibly sharp and deadly. Teotihuacan also expanded their empire through battle.
How did this civilization go up in flames? Why did the Teotihuacan collapse? What happened to its people? Why is finding out about this civilization so hard? Dr. Jago explores the reasons why Teotihuacan collapsed. If you want to continue to learn more about Teotihuacan continue to watch the documentary.
Beware that there are sound and freezing issues with this video if you want to use this video in the classroom. If this bothers the class, then just use this video for clips. This documentary is highly recommended for a history classroom. If you want to give your students a break from studying the Aztecs, then this is a good documentary to show in the classroom.
The Lost Kingdoms of Central America continues in Between Empires and Oceans. Dr. Jago Cooper starts off his journey in Costa Rica. Archeologists ignored the country for decades, unaware of a hidden civilization so close. When Columbus found this civilization the people were covered head to toe in gold. It was called “Costa Rica” because the area was so rich.
It was a civilization that had built many cities. They thrived among volcanoes. They lived between two continents and two oceans. Cooper explores the challenging landscape to discover this civilization. During the 20th Century, this civilization was rediscovered. This discovery helped archeologists locate settlements of this mysterious civilization. They found similar settlements in southern Costa Rica and Northern Panama.
Dr. Cooper heads up in the air to understand the landscape. He wants to know the environment to help determine how this civilization survived. For decades, archeologists believed that no civilization could survive. They focused their efforts on the Maya and the Andean civilizations. They missed something special hidden in the Costa Rica jungle. Dr. Cooper goes to a site where the Ancient Costa Rican people lived.
The settlement contains stone circles. The stone circles were different sizes. They worked with the landscape to build their settlement. The settlement lasted for 700 years and they harvest maize and other crops. This site was eventually rebuilt and it became a religious site. It became the home of priests and other religious figures. It was a place of pilgrimage.
Why did they rebuild the site? Perhaps the answer lies in a cemetery found on the site. It was one of the biggest cemeteries in the region. The Ancient Costa Ricans treated their dead by marking their ancestors’ graves. Their dead was buried and buried next to or nearby to family. The Ancient Costa Ricas marked groups of graves. The bodies are long gone and devoured by the soil. The artifacts are gone. They were looted long ago, they were looking for gold. Pounds and pounds of gold came from that site.
Gold was a symbol of wealth and power. Gold was an emblem of authority. The ancient Costa Ricans buried gold with their dead. There are still questions about the Ancient Costa Ricans. Why did a settlement turn into a religious site? What prompted the change? Why was the site reconstructed?
Cooper makes his way to a museum. He discovers that jade was a valuable resource for the Ancient Costa Ricans. Jade use flourished in the Mayans. Perhaps before gold, Jade was used. The ancient Costa Ricans carved items out of jade. This also meant that jade traded to Costa Rica. This is another piece in the Ancient Costa Rican puzzle. Eventually, jade’s use went away and gold was used. Perhaps the ancient Costa Rican’s religion started to change. The small objects created with gold or jade were religious images.
Gold also had a political role. Gold was controlled by the political elite. Understanding why jade changed to gold is key to understanding the Ancient Costa Rican’s view of the world. Jade demonstrated the influence of the north. So perhaps gold demonstrated the influence of the south. It also shows how connected the Ancient Costa Ricans were to the outside world.
To continue to learn more about the ancient people of Costa Rica, continue to watch the documentary.
This is a fascinating documentary for a history class. You can use this documentary for an anthropology class. It is interesting to see an area that archeologists have not spent much time in. This is another great episode to show to a class to give students a break from the Mayans, Aztecs, and Incans.
I'm a librarian with an active imagination who likes to create. Genealogist and Researcher.
My Teachers Pay Teachers Store! Worksheets available as a Word Document.
I am also on Lulu! If you're interested in genealogy I have two books available!
HistoryDocTube will not collect any personal information and will not sell any personal information to a third party. We will not request any personal information. The purpose of this blog is to share information on what can be used in the a classroom, private school or home school setting as well as serve as a portfolio of my personal and professional work.